KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Box Score Faulkner (Ala.) defeated No. 15-seed Xavier (La.), 72-59, to advance to the second round of the 2013 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship. The Eagles will face Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) tomorrow at 9:45 p.m. CDT. The 76th annual event is held at the Municipal Auditorium.
The Eagles won their fourth contest in the national championship with the victory over Xavier. After trading leads late in the first half, Faulkner took the lead with 14:01 left and never looked back.
"They have a lot of shooters and are a good inside/outside team," said Faulkner head coach Jim Sanderson. "We are glad to get the win and look forward to playing Lindsey Wilson."
Xavier jumped out to a 14-9 lead after Wanto Joseph hit a jumper. Faulkner answered the Gold Rush run with a run of its own as the Eagles took a 22-19 lead. Faulkner continued to add up points, extending their lead to 24-20 with six minutes and 14 seconds left in the half. However, after the Eagles held the four-point lead, the Gold Rush answered right back and scored the next five points.
Both teams continued to trade leads late in the first half and after a made free throw with one second left, Faulkner and Xavier went into halftime tied at 30.
The seesaw battle continued for the Eagles and Gold Rush to start the second half. With 14:02 left in the second half, Faulkner took a 41-40 lead and never looked back. The Eagles shot 55 percent in the second half to pull away from the Gold Rush.
After Xavier took the lead, the Gold Rush fell behind Faulkner by 14 points with one minute and nine seconds left. Faulkner finished strong with a 72-59 victory.
Cyrille Sandjon and Jake Mitchell led Faulkner with 14 points apiece, and Maurice Whitely collected 10 rebounds. The Eagles shot 48 percent from the floor for the game.
Wanto Joseph led the Gold Rush with a game-high 16 points, while Denzell Erves finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double.
The Gold Rush struggled to hit the outside shot as they were 2-13, 15 percent, from behind the arc for the game after shooting 33 percent from behind the arc in the season.
"I thought we played hard," said Xavier head coach Dannton Jackson. "We made some mistakes, but we were right there in the balance."
- No. 15 Xavier University (La.) earned an at-large berth to the 2013 NAIA National Championship, its 13th overall and third straight. The Gold Rush posted a 24-7 overall record and an 11-3 mark in Gulf Coast Athletic Conference action, tying Philander Smith (Ark.) for the regular-season title.
- Xavier dropped its first-round contests in each of the past three trips to Kansas City, falling 79-71 to Evangel in 2011 and dropping a 66-63 result to LSU-Shreveport in 2012.
- The halftime deadlock was the first of the 2012-13 tournament, and the first since the 2010 event. Southern Nazarene University and Montana-Western were tied 37-37 at the half, with SNU going on to win 81-78 in the second round matchup.
- Denzell Erves picked up the 13th double-double of the 2013 tournament. It is his 17th of the season, tied with Brandon Davis of LSU-Shreveport for the NAIA lead. (Davis wins the tiebreaker, adding a triple-double to his body of work.)
- Xavier (La.) generated just nine points from its bench tonight.
- Denzell Erves leads the NAIA in blocked shots on the year with 41 but was held without one tonight. Nick Haywood recorded his third block of the year with a rejection with 3:37 to play.
- Faulkner (Ala.) eliminated Xavier's teams in the first round of both the men's and women's NAIA National Championship.
- Faulkner, who falls to 10-8 in eight national championship trips, is one of eight qualifiers with 10-or-more wins.
- The Eagles fall to 3-6 overall in the championship first round.
- Faulkner came into the game fifth in scoring defense (61.5 papg) - now have held their seven previous opponents to 65 or fewer points.
- With 14 points, Cyrille Sandjon notches his third 10-plus point game in the last four contests.
- Jake Mitchell, who shared team-high scoring honors with Sandjon, netted 11 of his 14 points in the second half.